30 Blogging lessons I've learned this year
June 18, 2008 /

As you may have read in my previous post, Blogger Buster is now one year old! While I may not have amassed a readership to rival that of other blogging gurus, I'm very happy with the successes achieved so far.

Celebrating my first "blogoversary" has helped me reflect on the learning process of becoming a professional blogger. So in this post, I'd like to share some of the most important lessons I've learned about blogging which may be useful for you too.

Starting out: The first few months of blogging are the hardest!

Unless you can launch a blog from an existing successful platform, a new blogging venture will begin at 'the bottom of the pile'.

Zero subscribers, no established readership and very little content are the resources we start out with when launching a new blog. This is nothing compared to the thousands of subscribers, monthly visitor statistics and pages of content held by the blogging gurus whose very success may have inspired our new ventures!

As I have learned from experience (and I'm sure many others would confirm this), the first few months of blogging are the most difficult to work through.

This is a hard lesson for those who begin a new blogging venture. With few incentives to continue blogging, many new bloggers lose interest and abandon their blogs within the first three months.

Take it from me: if you can post your way through these first few months of blogging; stay focused; write regularly and retain an interest in your blog, your efforts will eventually pay off.

Each small success, whether this be an increase in comments or a rise in AdSense earnings, will lead on on to further achievements.

Consider these first few months to be the first chapter of your blog's eventual biography: the plot has not yet truly begun, and the story is just beginning to get interesting!

Write on a subject you feel passionate about

If you can write on a subject which interests you personally, it's much easier to get through those first few months of "empty" blogging.

My first few blogging ventures were unsuccessful because I didn't feel passionate enough about the subject to continue writing them.

What I did enjoy about these fledgling blogs was learning how to design new templates, customize their layouts, and discovering interesting ways to use blogging services. Documenting these methods and ideas was, for me, far more interesting than writing on any other subject. This developed from a hobby to a passion, and is one of the first things I think of when I wake up in the morning!

Writing through passion ensures you will rarely feel bored, unmotivated or yearn for more money/more visitors/more subscribers from your blog.

By writing on a subject you are genuinely interested in, you will feel that every success is a bonus to your ventures, which can only motivate you to continue.

Readers are much more likely to connect with an author whose passion for their subject can be read between the lines of their posts.

Focus your efforts on a specific niche

Much has been written on the subject of "niche blogging", and with good reason too!

Blogs which focus on a specific niche tend to be more successful than general interest blogs. Blogs which focus in a particular subset of a niche have the potential for even greater success.

Take a look at the top 50 Blogger powered blogs, for instance: almost every one of the blog featured in this list focus their writing on a very specific subject or genre; their authors are considered "experts" of their niche, and many benefit from offline achievements in the form of book deals, employment, consulting and the like. Such achievements have been generated through their niche focus and the consequent success of their blogs.

When I first started writing Blogger Buster, it was with the intention of writing in the broader niche of metablogging (blogging about blogging in general). As I learned more about using Blogger, my posts became more and more focused on this particular subset of the metablogging niche.

This development was a natural process for me, but with hindsight I understand this focus has become a big part of Blogger Buster's success so far: regular readers are (generally) Blogger users who are assured that my posts will be useful and appropriate for their needs; I have boundaries for the content I write about, and an everlasting stream of ideas which is generated through communication with my readers.

Making money from your blog is not easy (especially for certain types of blog!)

In this year of blogging, I've seen a sharp increase in the number of "make money online" blogs which document the author's journey towards becoming an entrepreneur.

While it's certainly possible for bloggers to make hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars each month from their efforts, these bloggers contribute a whole lot of dedication, hard work and patience to see the fruits of their efforts develop on this scale.

And as I know from experience, certain niche blogs are much harder to monetize than others!

For me, making money from Blogger Buster has always been a benefit, rather than a requirement. I'd hoped to make enough from the ads I display to cover the costs of my domain, hosting package and general internet bills, but to be brutally honest, I've only just begun to make enough money to cover the costs of blogging.

My problem is this: the niche I have chosen here is among the most difficult to monetize effectively. There are few ad servers and affiliate schemes which would be relevant for readers of Blogger Buster.

Call me moralistic, but I honestly think that plastering a blog with ads (especially those which are irrelevant to the blog's subject matter) can damage a blogger's reputation and actually cause more harm than good.

Product based blogs (Darren Rowse's Digital Photography School is a prime example) are much easier to monetize than metablogs (eg: Problogger), personal diaries and other niche subjects. This is because there are far more advertisers, ad networks and affiliate schemes available to sell these products.

So if you are blogging with a view to making money online, my advice to you would be this: research your chosen niche; take a look at the type and quality of ads which would be appropriate for your readers, and base your expectations on this!

Get organized and plan ahead!

Organization and forward planning are key qualities of successful bloggers. For me, this would be the most important lesson of all. Unfortunately, I have learned this lesson the hard way...

As your blog begins to grow, so do the demands on your time. More emails to be read (and replied to); more comments to read, respond to, and moderate when necessary. You may like to tweak your template from time to time, or create a valuable resource for your readers.

At the same time, you'll be writing regular posts, researching future content, networking, reading your favorite blogs and all the other activities which day-to-day blogging entails.

Unless you are organized and plan ahead for what could happen, you may end up feeling as I have from time to time: overwhelmed, overworked and in desperate need of a break!

Being a full time mum AND blogger, it's difficult for me to actually establish an organized routine for my blogging duties. As I'm sure other parents will understand, children have a habit of laying the best laid plans to waste!

Luckily I have been able to establish a general (and very flexible) routine:

  • I try to write content only on weekdays, freeing up the weekend to catch up on emails, networking, research and other non-post related tasks.
  • Whenever I have the opportunity, I write batches of posts ahead of time and make use of Blogger's scheduling feature.
  • Writing lists of tasks helps me keep track of what I should be doing, and when.
  • I answer emails in batches, and only when all other urgent tasks are complete!

This is far from ideal, and while I do have plans which could help me become better organized, I still need to free up time to put these into action!

The need to organize and plan ahead is the hardest, and most important lesson I've learned about blogging this year! I hope that after reading this, you'll have some ideas of how to prevent bad organization affecting your own ability to blog!

There are many types and levels of blogging success: setting realistic goals can help you achieve them!

Blogger Buster has never made the front page of Digg; it hasn't helped me earn a million dollar income, and after a whole year of blogging my subscriber base pales in comparison to those of the Technorati top 100.

While these factors are commonly seen as indicative of a blog's success, I have learned to take pride in the smaller achievements which contribute to success in the long term.

From time to time, I have taken a step back from blogging to look at the bigger picture; I set myself achievable goals and work towards them, one small step at a time.

This way, each goal achieved is a small success for my blog: one which can be celebrated; which offers more incentive to continue, to push the boundaries, and to work towards goals which may have seemed unreachable at first.

My definition of a successful blog is one which makes the author(s) feel proud of their efforts.

So whether your goal is to make a thousand dollars in one month, or simply encourage more readers to comment on your posts, each goal you reach is an achievement, and a building block to even greater success in the long term.

Conclusions

Blogging holds new lessons for us to learn every day: a fact which rings as true for blogging experts as those who are just starting to blog!

By this time next year, I'll have learned a while new set of lessons about blogging through Blogger Buster, though for now I hope my insights may prove useful in helping you achieve the goals you set for your own blog's success.

Author: Amanda Kennedy

Amanda is a professional blogger and web designer living in Sheffield, United Kingdom.

In addition to curating Blogger Buster, you can find Amanda on Twitter, Facebook or add her to your circle on Google+.

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30 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post! My friend and I just started a blog that we hope becomes very popular, and it seems to be starting out well. We have tons of enthusiasm for what we are doing, so we hope it will all work out! Check it out if you want:

    http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions for us! And thanks again, I love your blog!

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  2. hey amanda you should provide search option for this site..and btw this is the nicest blogging site i have been to......

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  3. raghav,there is a search option at the top of the right side.

    thx amanda for sharing ur 1 year blogging experience.it's very encouraging.

    yes first few months of blogging are the hardest. i am going through it.my blog just passed three months. few subscriber,less comment and only $5 in the whole three month:)))

    But i am happy coz i feel passionate about what i write.

    i must say u could quit blogging as
    u were not making enough money.making money from this type of niche is very hard.most of we the blogger come here and aware of ads what is showing here.honestly we don't encourage to click those ads.

    U did provide us continuously post that helped us a lot for that thanks from bottom of my heart.

    i hope u will continue what u r doing and expand ur though some other niche which can help both of us.

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  4. Hey! Amazing post!
    Very inspiring.. I guess every new blogger should read this! The point about most blogs dying in the first 3 months is so true!

    As for money, I feel money should be a by product of a blog, not the main focus. Blogs made to only earn money are a waste I feel, if they don't serve any other purpose!

    Congrats for one successful year of Blogging!

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  5. Hi Amanda...
    First of all congratulations on one successful year of pro blogging :D . You are some of the bloggers who keep people inspired to remain onto blogger and not to move over to other bloging platforms. Thanks for the contribution towards the Blogging Community and towards Blogger in speciality :D

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  6. Thanks Amanda for all the great posts.

    Your blog have insipred me to try and learn new things about blogging.

    Hope you will have another great year and looking forward for more great posts from you :)

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  7. Great post indeed! and very inspiring. :)

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  8. Just coming up on completion of my 3rd month of blogging. Yes its been very hard----as a newbie have found nobody really wants to take the time to explain things, that once learned do seem kinda very simple, but to someone that didn't know were a real stumbling block. In any case, yes one must have persaverence and maintain a "Build it and they will come" conviction.

    GaryJay
    http://threescoreplusten.blogspot.com/

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  9. Funny that you should call yourself a guru. Yesterday I gave you props in my blog because I used your tips to make my blog three columns. Thank you for the help! I'll be here lots for tips and ideas for improvment.
    Keep it up!

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  10. Excellent Post!

    I've been a 'reader' of your blog for a few months now and have really enjoyed it.

    Regarding blogging..I agree to blog about you are passionate...otherwise, it is just something else to do.

    ~Cookeville Weather Guy
    http://www.cookevilleweatherguy.com

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  11. Great post Amanda - I'm at the very start and still thinking hard about where I want to go with blogging. As you said it's really hard in the first months and I've found you have to post every day to have a hope in hell of being found amongst the masses. I haven't been doing this yet - I also think it's easy to get too hung up on the actual design of the blog - when really it's 90% about content. Anyway - keep up the good work - I'm certain that if you stick with it you'll hit the Technorati top 100 eventually. :-)

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  12. Congrats, Amanda! I must admit, I owe you more than half of my blogging career.

    I applied almost all your tips in my blogs and I can say, if it were not for them my blogs will not look professional as it is now.

    I am among those who has been inspired by your style and your as well as subscriber since day one I know about your blog.

    Just like you, I am sticking with the niche that I like because it is really my passion to blog about family tips.

    I do not want to spoil your celebration but I have one concern.

    Before, I had widgets for my Top Commenters and Recent Comments which I got from you. But when I changed my templates that I also got from your list, I cannot re-install them anymore.

    I hope you can help me because this is the only way I know to reward my commenters.

    Thanks and more power!

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  13. Dearest Amanda,
    I first would like to thank you on behalf of many new bloggers who would be lost without you and your blog. Although there is a Blogger help room, I have found that often my questions go unanswered. When I come to you, the archive (which I hope to set up this week-end on my own blog), helps me. If I am confused, I check the comments, which can often lead me further.
    My original post was a reactionary one to a news item. I had thought that I might like to write at some point in the future, but had never considered blogging as I know squat about computers. Mine is written much as I paint. It is something that one does for love, with hope that it may touch/reach/connect with others. I am so new that I have no following. But I will continue to write; and I thank you for your message of help.

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  14. @Hannah: Thank you for stopping by! It's great to know you have such enthusiasm for your blog. As I mentioned in the post, passion can get you a long way when writing your blog! Best of luck for your new venture :)

    @Raghav: I'm glad to know Blogger Buster is a useful resource for you. You can search for particular posts using the search bar in the header section, or look through the label archives for posts on a particular subject.

    @Kazi: Thank you for your lovely comments. Now that you've got through your first three months, I'm sure your passion and developing experience will help you on even more :)

    @Rash: I'm glad you agree on the notion of making money online. Thank you for your kind comments :) I hope that the next year of Blogger Buster will be as useful for you all!

    @Gaurav: It makes me happy to know my articles are useful to those using Blogger. And comments like yours only encourage me to continue :)

    @Roseli A. Baker: Thank you for stopping by! I'm looking forward to another year of blogging too!

    @Samar Bloggirl: Thank you for your comments! I hope you stop by again soon to read the other articles I have in store :)

    @GaryJay: I do hope my articles (or at least most of them) explain things in a way which anyone can understand? In any case, I do agree that resources for new bloggers are hard to come by. Once we have learned something new and use this knowledge often, it becomes difficult to explain in very simple terms.

    I am in the process of writing a really big ebook which I hope will be useful for very new bloggers and also serve those who have much experience with this platform.

    Congratulations on getting through your first three months! From now on, I hope blogging becomes easier for you, and makes your activities feel much more worthwhile :)

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  15. @Merrie: I'm happy to know this tutorial has been helpful for you! Though this is one of my earliest articles, it seems to be the most used resource on the site!

    Thank you for your kind comments :)

    @Cookeville Weather Guy: I'm glad to know you've enjoyed reading my blog! Thank you for stopping by to comment!

    @Julian Schoffel: I know the general consensus among professional bloggers is to write at least every day, but there is a string trend now towards "Quality" lengthy posts over the quantity of posting.

    So if daily posting feels like a chore to you, why not spend more time writing a long, value packed post and promoting this through various channels as a change to your normal routine? You may well find this brings more visitors, as well as a sense of gratification for having achieved something so good through your blog.

    Much as I'd love to post every day, my posts tend to become quite long and I don't always have the time to do this. Yet strangely, my subscriber count seems to increase more on the days where I don't post (especially if there is a great article on the home page on these days).

    Hope this may be useful for you to try sometime?

    PS: Thanks for your support! I reached the top 1000 in Technorati this weekend :)

    @Guardian Angel: Thank you for your kind comments :)

    I'm really not sure why the recent comments and top commenter widgets will not work in your blog. So I will take a look at your blog as soon as I can to see if I can figure out where the problem may be.

    @Dano Macnamarrah: Your comment is very touching and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing your insights with us!

    I wish you the best of luck for your new blog, though I'm sure you will become successful over time due to your passion for your blog.

    Best wishes and thank you for visiting here! I hope that my articles will be useful for you.

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  16. I have re read this post again for the third time. It is very umpiring and informative and I have gotten many helpful tips from your blog.

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  17. I found this blog about 15 minutes ago and it looks great!
    It has lots of tips and useful stuff.
    Totally agree with you: writing about something you love is the key, and the first moths are the hardest...
    Hope that the blog lasts and next year you'll still be posting good content.

    (sorry for the not-very-good english)

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  18. Thanks for writing! Very informative and useful tips! I love it!

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  19. Amanda, I have to say that, by far, your blog is the most useful resource i have found this year xD and there you have an extra tip xD

    ReplyDelete
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